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Author's hopes for a new beast-seller

PUBLISHED: 09:25 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:02 25 August 2010

BLACK BEAUTY: Panther’s are one of many big cats featured in Neil Arnold’s book .

BLACK BEAUTY: Panther's are one of many big cats featured in Neil Arnold's book .

A BIG cat researcher and author has released his first book documenting sightings of mystery animals over the last 20 years

A BIG cat researcher and author has released his first book documenting sightings of mystery animals over the last 20 years.

In Mystery Animals of Kent, to be released next month, Neil Arnold chronicles sightings of black leopards, wallabies and wild boars across north Kent and south-east London.

Dramatic accounts include those of the 'beasts' of Bexley and Bromley, the Sydenham 'panther', the 'beast' of Bluewater and several big cats around Dartford and Gravesend.

Mr Arnold, 34, from Rochester, said: "It's taken long enough! I'm really pleased to finally get it out after all this time.

"Dartford and Gravesend are probably the hottest spots for panther sightings.

"Bluewater especially has had a lot of panther sightings - they were there long before the shopping centre was built. They love it in the quarries."

The unique book features photographic evidence collected by Mr Arnold over 20 years of tracking mysterious animals in the area.

With more than 400 pages, his detailed analysis examines evidence of other mystery animals in Kent, including exotic reptiles released into the wild, insect swarms and folkloric creatures.

Mr Arnold said the big cats, like black leopards (commonly known as panthers), pumas and lynx cats have 50 to 60 mile territories and travel mainly at night, making them almost impossible to spot.

He added: "Initially I was a bit hesitant to release all the information in the book because you do get some nut jobs who think that they might get a reward if they shoot the animals, which is of course complete rubbish."

Recalling how he first became interested in tracking big cats and other animals, he added: "I first heard about wild cats in Kent when I was a kid and I just started filing reports about it.

"Now I'm working with zoologists and all sorts of people. It's just amazing. It's addictive! I am privileged to see what I have seen.

"But above all, I am interested in the welfare of the animals."

Published by CFZ Press, the book will be available in bookshops and on internet site Amazon or from the author at neil.arnold@live.com or by calling 01634 8303840.

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